National Trust boss says wind turbines 'can be beautiful'
The new head of the National Trust has described wind turbines as "beautiful", despite fierce criticism of the technology from guardians of the countryside.
Dame Helen Ghosh, 57, who succeeded Dame Fiona Reynolds as director-general of the National Trust in November, said: "Personally, I think a wind turbine in the right place is a rather beautiful thing. I think they can look graceful, and this goes back to thinking in centuries.
"If you think back to what the railways looked like to the 19th century mind, or indeed the 18th century when the canals were coming through, I think we have to have our minds open to how the wind turbine will appear to us in 100 years."
The former permanent secretary at the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made the comments in an interview with The Sunday Times in which she also said that the organisation will examine proposed turbines on a case-by-case basis, only objecting when they impact upon the historic landscape.
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She said: "The National Trust, as an organisation, takes the view that in the right place – and because of the importance of renewable energy – we don't object to them.
She added: "Wind turbines in the right place are fine. We object to wind turbines where they are a blot on our historic landscape."
More than 100 wind turbines cover the rural Westcountry, with many more pending. The region has been targeted by developers, despite criticism over their visual impact.
Dame Ghosh acknowledged that her views did not tally with those of the National Trust's chairman, Sir Simon Jenkins – an outspoken critic of wind turbines.
She said: "Simon has a fundamental, personal, aesthetic objection to wind turbines."
Dame Ghosh was appointed permanent secretary at Defra in 2005, where she helped forge pro-wind policy until her appointment as permanent secretary at the Home Office in January 2011.
As director-general of the National Trust, Dame Ghosh oversees a staff of 5,000 and a volunteer staff of 65,000.
Around 19 million visits were made to National Trust lands and properties last year.
The UK's biggest onshore wind farm will be in North Devon, and is expected to be up and running shortly. The massive Fullabrook wind farm between Barnstaple and Ilfracombe consists of 22 giant turbines.